The Public Interest

Who’s a liberal?

William A. Galston

Summer 2001

IT is reported that after Thomas Babington Macaulay, the nineteenth-century British historian and statesman, delivered a typically emphatic speech in the House of Commons, one of his colleagues remarked to another, “By God, I wish I were as sure of anything as Macaulay is of everything.” As I read Brian Barry’s Culture and Equality, † that quotation rushed unbidden into my mind. Barry has delivered a thumping book, brimming with certitude, written in what Alan Wolfe has recently called a “take no prisoners” style. (In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that I am one of the combatants Barry chooses to shoot rather than incarcerate.)

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